Chapter 24: the storming of Monterey, 1846.
The army arrived at Walnut Springs
, two or three miles from Monterey
, September 19, 1846. Two days afterward offensive operations were begun.
They ended in the capitulation of Monterey
, a city strongly fortified and stubbornly defended.
Mr. John Savage
, in his “Living representative men,” gives a brilliant account of the part taken in these operations by the Mississippi Rifles. “In the storming of Monterey
,” he writes,
Colonel Davis and his riflemen played a most gallant part.
The storming of one of its strongest forts (Taneria), on the 21st of September, was a desperate and hard-fought fight.
The Mexicans had dealt such death by their cross-fires that they ran up a new flag in exultation and in defiance of the assaults which at this time were being made in front and rear.
The Fourth Artillery, in the advance, had been terribly cut up; but the Mississippians and Tennesseeans pressed steadily forward.
Under a galling fire of copper grape they
approached to within a hundred yards of the fort, when they were lost in a cloud of smoke.
McClung, meeting a company which formerly had been under his command, dashed on, followed by Captain Willis.
Anticipating General Quitman, Colonel Davis, about the same time, gave the order to charge.
With wild desperation his men followed him. The escalade was made with the fury of a tempest, the men flinging themselves upon the guns of the enemy.
Sword in hand, McClung has sprung over the ditch.
After him dashes Davis, cheering on the Mississippians, and then Campbell with his Tennesseeans and others, brothers in the fight and rivals for its honors.
Then was wild work.
The assault was irresistible.
The Mexicans, terror-stricken, fled like an Alpine village from the avalanche, and, taking position in a strong fortified building, some seventy-five yards in the rear, opened a heavy fire of musketry.
But, like their mighty river, nothing could stay the Mississippians; they are after the Mexicans.
Davis and McClung are simultaneously masters of the fortifications, having got in by different entrances.
In the fervor of victory the brigade does not halt; but, led on by Colonel Davis, are preparing to charge on the second post (El Diablo), about three hundred yards in the rear, when they are restrained
This desperate conflict lasted two hours. The charge of the Mississippi Rifle Regiment, without bayonets, upon Fort Taneria, gained for the State a triumph which stands unparalleled.
Placed in possession of El Diablo on the dawn of the 23d, Colonel Davis was exposed to a sharp fire from a half-moon redoubt, about one hundred and fifty yards distant, which was connected with heavy stone buildings and walls adjoining a block of the city.
Returning the fire, he proceeded with eight men to reconnoitre the ground in advance.
Having reported, he was ordered, with three companies of his regiment, and one of the Tennesseeans, to advance on the works.
When they reached the half-moon work, a tremendous fire was opened from the stone buildings in the rear.
Taking a less exposed position, Davis was reinforced, and, the balance of the Mississippians coming up, the engagement became general in the street, while from the house-tops a heavy fire was kept up by the Mexicans.
‘The gallant Davis, leading the advance with detached parties, was rapidly entering the city, penetrating into buildings, and generally driving the enemy from the position,’ when General Henderson and the Texan Rangers, dismounted, entered the city, and, through musketry and grape, made their
way to the advance.
The conflict increased, and still Davis continued his command through the street to within a square of the Grand Plaza, when, the afternoon being far advanced, General Taylor withdrew the Americans to the captured fort.